NEW YORK — Another step toward film preservation was taken here this week with the presentation of 11 Academy Award-winning films from Columbia Pictures to the Museum of Modern Art.
"This gift represents our commitment to help preserve films and to encourage others to help in preservation efforts," said Francis T. Vincent, president of the entertainment business sector of Columbia's parent company, the Coca-Cola Co., at a formal presentation held at the museum Wednesday evening.
"It's a pleasure being employed by a company that is prepared to put its money where its mouth is, and its prints where its heart is," said David Puttnam, chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia Pictures.
In addition to 35-millimeter prints of all of Columbia's best-film Oscar winners and their trailers, Columbia presented the archives with other supporting materials, including screenplays, production notes, posters and stills. The studio also contributed $40,000 to the museum's film-preservation efforts.
This marks the first time that a major film studio has presented the museum's film archives such a gift, according to a museum spokesman.
The 11 films, clips from which were shown to the invited audience of several hundred Wednesday, span 50 years. They are: "It Happened One Night," "You Can't Take It With You," "All the King's Men," "From Here to Eternity," "On the Waterfront," "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia," "A Man for All Seasons," "Oliver!," "Kramer Vs. Kramer," and "Gandhi."
"Watching these clips, it's easy to see why we love the movies," Puttnam told the audience during a break between film clips. In a marked contrast from the formal remarks usually made by Hollywood studio executives at such ceremonies here, the new studio chief and former independent producer of "Chariots of Fire" and "The Killing Fields," spoke informally, personally and movingly of his own lifelong love of classic American films and of his admiration for the legendary moguls who made them, such as Columbia's longtime studio chief Harry Cohn and producer Sam Spiegel.
"We often fail to learn lessons from history, but perhaps we can learn from these prints that every one of these films was a struggle to get made," Puttnam said.